Menlo Park City School District School Board votes to submit waiver application for in-person instruction for Kindergarten and 1st grade

by Parke Treadway on September 11, 2020

At its meeting on September 10, the Menlo Park City School District School Board voted unanimously to submit a waiver to the San Mateo County Health Department requesting to open for in-person instruction for kindergarteners and first graders with a targeted opening date of September 28.

Since delaying this vote at its September 3 meeting, the district has taken a variety of steps to continue working with teachers and staff to build support for reopening safety measures. The steps included multiple meetings with union leadership; site administration conversations with kinder and first grade teachers; initial scenario planning at site level with teacher consultation; and convening two health and safety panels for teacher-generated questions to be addressed by medical and public health professionals.

See the full presentation about the reopening here.

After comments on both sides of the waiver decision from MPEA and CSEA presidents and many parents making public comment, all Board members reported that they felt comfortable with MPCSD’s robust health and safety plan including many additional precautions that will be added under a waiver. The Board feels that the academic and social-emotional risks to young students from being away from in-person learning outweigh potential health risks from bringing students back on campus. Board members commented that the medical experts in this week’s panels concurred that MPCSD’s plan is comprehensive, safe, and that they see no reason not to reopen for kindergarten and first grade students at this time.

The district will submit its waiver application on September 11. San Mateo County requires a 14-day runway between the target reopening date and the application submission. The district will use the next two weeks to prepare classrooms, implement its staff testing program with Stanford Health Care (also approved at this meeting), and hold parent education sessions with site and district leadership to help parents understand what school will look like under the waiver.

The next regular School Board meeting is scheduled for October 8 at 5:00 p.m. As always, MPCSD School Board meeting information, including the agenda and details for joining meetings via Zoom, are available 72 hours in advance of each meeting on the district’s website homepage.

Photo of kindergarten playground at Oak Knoll School by Linda Hubbard (c) 2019

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